Story Highlights• Schwarzenegger says environmental movement needs image polished
• He backs cars that run on biofuel and hydrogen fuel
• He warns politicians to follow his lead or watch votes melt like polar ice caps
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- He's on a mission to save the planet. But first, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to pump some sex appeal into environmentalists.
"You have to make it mainstream. You have to make it sexy. You have to make it attractive so that everyone wants to participate," the Republican governor said at Georgetown University Wednesday.
As a former bodybuilder and actor, Schwarzenegger says he's familiar with polishing images. And he says environmentalists could take a lesson from bodybuilders. (Watch the governor warn against becoming a political penguin )
"Like bodybuilders, environmentalists were also kind of thought of as weird, strange and fanatic and kind of serious tree-huggers, as you know. Environmentalists were no fun," he said.
Schwarzenegger is trying to make them cool and edgy. He says just like his 1977 movie "Pumping Iron" made bodybuilding mainstream, the same can be done with environmentalists without sacrificing for the cause.
"We don't have to take away the cars from the people. The SUVs, the Hummers and the muscle cars. No, that formula is a formula for failure," he said to the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday. "Instead, what we have to do is make those muscle cars and those SUVs and those Hummers environmentally muscular."
His solution? Drive environmentally friendly Hummers like his that run on biofuel and hydrogen fuel. Before his Hummers went green, he was the target of protests for driving gas guzzlers.
One environmental group in California says his record is mixed. The California League of Conservation Voters did not endorse him last year in his election bid, but says Schwarzenegger is evolving. "We're excited and I think the environmental movement across the country, more or less, [and] in the state of California is grateful that he's taking this issue on and being so visible about it," Rico Mastrodonato of the league said.
In the past year, Schwarzenegger has helped pass laws in California to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. He said he signed two laws, one to curb emissions 25 percent by the year 2020 and the other to cut the carbon content in transportation fuel by 10 percent.
He issued a warning to other politicians who don't follow his lead.
"Your political base will melt away as surely as the polar ice caps -- I can guarantee you of that," Schwarzenegger said. "You will become a political penguin on a smaller and smaller ice floe, drifting out to sea. Goodbye, my little friend."
CNN's Mary Snow and Lauren Kornreich contributed to this report
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says drivers don't have to give up big cars, the cars have to become "environmentally muscular."
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